District action plan suspended after brewery voices concerns

COMPLAINTS from Yorkshire’s oldest brewery have led to a 15-year action plan mapping out the future of Selby district to be suspended by a Government planning inspector.

Selby District Council’s Core Strategy, which sets out a development blueprint for the area up to 2026, has been suspended following an independent two-week hearing into the document.

The government-appointed inspector acknowledged concerns from Samuel Smith’s Brewery and others that the council expanding into green-belt land to meet housing targets, and excessive growth planned for Tadcaster, represented deficiencies in the plan which meant it should not go ahead in its current form.

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The inspector has also called on the council to reconsider the overall housing targets outlined in the plan due to evidence pointing to a level of need “significantly above” its present aim of delivering 440 homes a year.

The core strategy has now been suspended for six months.

Yesterday, a Selby District Council spokesman told the Yorkshire Post that the delay would not cost taxpayers any more money.

Nigel Adams, the Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty, said: “The district council want to put this plan to bed as soon as is practically possible.

“I can imagine they are frustrated by this announcement, but it is important that all parties have had an opportunity to comment.

“This is a very live issue in Selby as it is.”

Controversial plans to build a travellers’ site with places for up to 20 caravans as part of the wider updated local development framework for Selby, remain unaffected by the suspension, with the latest round of public consultation on the proposals for Whitley, coming to an end at the start of December.

Selby District Council’s executive member with responsibility for place shaping, Coun John Mackman, said: “This is a very pragmatic approach to ensure that in the end we have a long-term core strategy planning document that is sound and meets the needs of our residents and local businesses.

“This is an important stage in the long process of developing this planning policy, so it is right that we take stock of where we are, and make any necessary amendments.

“We don’t believe the inspector’s comments indicate that our suggested approach has been flawed in any way, but there are issues that need further consideration or greater clarification to ensure that the end result is a clearly-defined and sensible approach to delivering the growth needed to support our residents and our local economy.

“We also need to ensure that the document, which began life back in 2008, reflects the very latest central government thinking on planning, with new legislation set for the near future - the environment in which we’re operating is changing all the time and we need to reflect this in the core strategy.”

Following the suspension, hearings into the document are expected to resume in April 2012.

The plans to build a travellers’ site as part of the core strategy have sparked a public outcry across the district.

A site in Brotherton had been earmarked for the scheme, but the decision infuriated residents who complained they had not been consulted properly and delivered a petition of around 1,000 signatures to a meeting of the full council last month.

Following the outcry, planning permission was granted to the landowner of the Brotherton site to withdraw it as a travellers’ pitch.

The council then announced it was looking to build the caravan pitches at Whitley, one of the original four sites proposed after being whittled down from 60 in the biggest public consultation the area has ever seen.

A cross-party task and finish group is currently looking to see if there are any better sites as it undergoes the latest round of consultation for its plans for Whitley.